Work with Bristol Energy Cooperative to help your organisation finance solar PV on your building

Published on by Chris Speller, Co-Director.

Can’t afford the up-front costs of Solar PV on your property? Then the Bristol Energy Co-op could help you, and the local community benefits too!

The installation on Hamilton House, Stokes Croft financed by share offer 1

We’re now buying 25% less each year from our electricity company thanks to the solar panels!

Jez Empson, Finance Manager, Knowle West Media Centre

What does Bristol Energy Coop do?

Bristol Energy Cooperative (BEC) was formed in 2011 by a number of community groups across the city. Our mission is to “Invest in renewables, cut carbon, and build community”. We are a not-for-profit organisation, technically a Community Benefit Society.

Bristol Energy Coop is extending its solar PV programme to commercial as well as community building roofs and It has never been easier to reduce your carbon footprint and save on fuel bills with no capital cost. There are also investment opportunities.

Bristol Energy Coop is involved in a range of Community Energy projects, one of which is a rolling programme of renewable energy generation installation across Bristol and surrounding areas. We raise the money needed to do this by offering shares that anyone can buy and which pay annual interest. So far this has been used to put small to medium scale roof top solar PV on community buildings but due to our success we are extending our installation programme to commercial roofs. We are also working on some much larger solar and wind projects. Surplus revenue, after all our costs after taken care of, goes into community benefit funding.

What are the steps for getting a solar PV system fitted to our building?

1. Contact us and we will send you more information about the scheme. A short initial self-assessment survey form will need completing but we can help you with this.

2. If the survey looks positive we will ask a solar installer to assess your roof for suitability. At this stage there is no commitment to move ahead with the project from either side.

3. If the scheme is technically and financially viable, we will ask you to sign a ‘Letter of Intent’. This gives us your permission to arrange a structural survey of the roof and obtain an energy performance certificate for the building (if you don’t already have one).

4. If the reports are all satisfactory and you wish to go ahead, a ‘Heads of Terms’ document will be signed by both sides enabling us to raise the funds for the installation. Prior to installation a ‘Lease and a Power Purchase Agreement’ will also be completed.

5. This may seem a little daunting but don’t worry! – it is normally quite a straightforward process and we can assist you through it.

What is Community Energy?

Community Energy is a growing world-wide phenomena creating cheap, sustainable and locally managed energy. It can involve energy generation, energy saving & efficiency schemes, collective purchase, smart energy management and other innovative practices. There is an emphasis on local ownership to increase the control and financial benefit for local people and businesses.

How can my business benefit from what Bristol Energy Coop is doing?

Your building may well be suitable for solar panels and Bristol Energy Coop can provide a package of assessment, financing and maintenance expertise to make installation an easy and transparent process.

The deal for building owners & users is supply of sustainably produced and cheaper electricity without any capital outlay or running costs as the Coop pays for the installation and all maintenance. The installation is gifted to the building owner after 20 years and there are also options to buy or part-buy the PV system earlier. The process can have numerous benefits to your organisation. Jez Empson, Finance Manager from Knowle West Media centre is convinced. He says: “We’ve had our solar panels from the Bristol Energy Co-op scheme for nearly 3 years now, and are very pleased with them. The installation process went smoothly, and we’re now buying 25% less electricity from our electricity company each year thanks to the electricity we use from the panels.”

There are more examples and more information on the Bristol Energy Coop’s  website overview page.

Our 25 KWp installation at Knowle West Media Centre

Can I invest directly in Bristol Energy Cooperative?

An alternative way to become involved and benefit is to invest directly in Bristol Energy Coop. Individuals and businesses can buy shares and by doing so will become Coop members. This is a convenient way into local social and environmental impact investment producing a reasonable financial return. There is more information on our website investing page.

We will soon be running our third share offer and a Share Offer Prospectus detailing all relevant information for potential investors will be published at the time of the share offer launch. The offer will attract an interest payment of 5% per annum and be eligible for significant tax relief (EIS or its successor SITR). More information and details of previous offers is available. If you would like to be individually notified about the launch please contact us on

Are there others ways to become involved in Community Energy?

Bristol Energy Coop is committed to keeping our business accessible for anyone wanting to contribute to the sustainable energy transformation that is gathering momentum. Many people approach us to offer their time and expertise, and the more people who join us the more we can do.

We also benefit from individual energy users switching to one of own partner green energy providers. More information on the BEC switching page 

Like what you hear?

Find out more about Bristol Energy Cooperative at their website